Tag Archive | Raffles Marina

Credit card nonsense

This post belongs to the “everything must complain” category. I’ve been encouraged to write about my own experience with the sudden notice from DBS Cards to cancel my Gold Visa (among other cards) starting Dec 1, after reading Boo n Bouquet’s version here.

I was a bit non-plussed on receiving what seemed like a marketing circular that i almost threw away. Just as well I took a closer look.

The circular advised that “as other DBS/POSB Credit Cards bring you market competitive privileges and benefits”, the bank has taken the unilateral decision to close your “DBS Affiinity/Charge Gold Visa/Mastercard credit card XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-7066″.

I hold two DBS cards and at first wondered if the bank meant both since one is what I assume is an “affinity” card (being a National University of Singapore Society card) and the other was once an affinity card too (to Raffles Marina, till some where along the way RM broke off its affinity with DBS and the bank without much ado issued me a new gold Visa card).

Then I took heart. Going by the last four digits provided by the circular, only the ID of my gold card ended with 7066.

And shucks, I’ve got a Giro payment for a small health insurance policy that’s been going on for perhaps 20 years linked to it. With the card gone, my policy may laspe and I don’t want that to happen.

I called the bank’s hotline. I waited for ages b4 I got to speak to a customer service officer and after many more minutes of explanation managed to extract a phone number from him, with the helpful tip on where I might find my policy number in my monthly credit card bill.

No, he could not arrange for the Giro charges to be ported over to my other DBS card. No, he couldn’t do anything. I must contact the insurer and make my own arrangements. And to think I had originally signed up for that insurance package because the card issuer made all the arrangements!

More time wasted with the insurers be4 I got the necessary form to instruct the insurer to instruct the bank to deduct.

I’m not the only DBS credit card holder inconvenienced by the bank’s unusual move to delete a whole slate of cards at one stroke.

Perhaps the 7066 cards are cards which are hardly used by their holders.

If so, DBS should have given card holders a choice: use them more often or give them up. And if you give them up, we will help you move your Giro arrangements to other DBS cards you use. We will also help you to consolidate your reward points rather than force you to consume them be4 Dec 1.

That would have been a lot more customer friendly.

But then, when you are Singapore’s biggest bank, who cares about being customer friendly!

Gifts with no strings attached, please!

so many strings attached

Even if I wanted to — and I don’t — I won’t be able to forget my birthday. Which though several weeks away has, like in past years, begun as early as April, to attract the vultures. Oh, I mean the merchants.

Those hitting on me, bearing gifts with strings attached, include the Tanglin Club, Singapore Cricket Club, and Raffles Marina as well as Great Eastern Life, from whom I’ve bought small policies.

I’ve written about this be4 in May 2008 and not a lot seems to have changed since then.

OK, Tanglin Club has gone slightly more generous: last time, it was only for a la carte dinner at its Churchill Room; now it could be for a la carte lunch as well. Also valid for the Sunday Family Buffet but nix for the month-end champagne brunch.

For good measure, the club has thrown in a 50% discount voucher for a one off treatment at Spa Bontanical, its tenant.

Such generosity leaves me speechless, as does the fact that SCC now gives its members a $25 discount voucher to spend at the Padang Restaurant, compared to the 15% discount previously. Sounds more like a cap on the club’s generosity, unless the average spent by birthday members is normally parsimonous!

As for the $50 voucher from Raffles Marina, there’s little to tempt me to celebrate there, given the club’s high food and beverage prices. On the plus side, RM imposes few restrictions other than make the voucher valid for some 3.5 months, from two weeks before the member’s birthday and up to three months after.

This year, the clubs have been joined by GE Life which offered me 3 gifts: a free 500gm cake for a minimum spent of $100 in a clutch of restaurants at the Fairmount Hotel; a makeover from Guerlain and a body massage said to worth $188 from Subtle Senses.

I won’t be availing myself of any of the 3 gifts, cos I’m not going to spend $100 for a 1/2 kg cake which is most likely something like black forest which I won’t eat even if you bribe me.

As for the makeover and body massage, I know only too well from experience what these “freebies” will lead to: high pressure sales tactics when I’m at my most vulnerable. Thanks but no thanks. I don’t need to celebrate my birthday in this fashion.

What I like to hear from merchants wanting my business but which I’ve never seen is for them to offer me on my birthday:

  • higher interest from my banks for deposits
  • double rewards for credit card spent
  • higher discounts at the petrol pump

However, this is unlikely to happen because these are real gifts whereas those being dumped on all and sundry who are about to celebrate their birthday is more like stuff that’s given to charity jumble sales.

Raffles Marina’s back-handed gift

As someone who loves freebies, provided they are truly freebies — with no strings attached — I always find it an insult when around my birthday I get a bunch of “gifts” — from NTUC Income, Metro, Tangs, Tanglin Club, Raffles Marina etc etc. In short any vendor to whom I’ve ever given my date of birth.

It’s not that I look a gift horse in the mouth but because almost all send vouchers that aren’t gifts at all but cheap gimmicks to get me to spend something at their establishments.

So, over the years, I’ve learned to toss out most of the vouchers, “free gifts” (sic, if it ain’t free it ain’t a gift, geddit?) and other vultures dressed as pressies.

I toss out the $50 gift voucher from Tanglin Club — too many stipulations: it must be spent in the Churchill Room. Which is fine but then there’s a minimum spend + I must use it only for dinner. As the C Room is the most expensive facility, it means literally I must spend several times more to enjoy that $50. Hence the gift isn’t worth anything to me, not even the cost of the card it’s printed on.

The vulture-gift from Singapore Cricket Club is 15% discount for the pleasure of eating in the Padang, also the club’s most expensive outlet. Not only that: the prices of practically every item on the menu scream “the best of fine dining”; altho the results don’t quite match up, in my experience.

The discount is increased to 20% if the eating is done at dinner time on a Sunday. O, the generosity simply blows my mind! No prize for guessing what I’ve done with their “vulture”.

There is, or more accurately was, one club about whose birthday gift I used to sing its praises, for not having any conditions. $50 says the voucher and $50 value it would be. Eat anywhere; pay for food and drinks.

Alas, I don’t think Raffles Marina’s gift is that great any more. In fact it makes me mad to think I had actually fallen for its gimmick on Saturday.

We ordered four Botak coconuts, 2 garlic naans, fish tandoori, nasi goreng istimewa, grilled fillet of salmon, caesar salad and a glass of white wine. The bill came to $91.81, and after deducting the $50 “vulture”, I had to pay $41.81.

So what’s the beef you might ask. My beef is that even without the “gift”, I needed to pay abt $46! As an RM member entitled to 50% discount on all food and beverages over a certain number of years (in exchange for giving up certain privileges), I gained just abt $5, because when I used the “vulture”, I wasn’t allowed to claim the 50% discount, not even on the amount in excess of the vulture’s value. Which to me is ridiculous and makes the so-called gift not a gift at all.

Worse was the fact that the food served at RM’s Bistro was atrocious (quite unlike its standard in the recent past), except perhaps for the coconuts (I’m quite generous: actually one of the four coconuts we were served was definitely older than my mum, bringing to life the saying “Lau Yar” which means OLD COCONUT and colloquil for lousy). The nasi goreng looked all right but I won’t know what it tasted like: that was for Siti, the maid.

Of the remaining four dishes, the caesar salad was passable but not the remainder. The salmon was grilled or pan-fried to death. The flesh was almost like saw dust.

The naans dripped with oil, even after I made a desperate attempt to take out the oil with the paper napkins (which incidentally we weren’t given till we asked for them, as well as for some missing utensils and serving plates!!) The fish tandoori was hard and tasted as if they had been cooked perhaps many moons ago n reheated– stone hard and again swimming in oil.

The only thing I had to be thankful for was that I didn’t actually go to celebrate my birthday. Just to have a tasty Saturday lunch with the family which in reality turned out to be anything but. And no, we barely touched the naan and the fish, breaking them up to take away for some stray dogs off Sixth Avenue. We hate wasting food, even if someone had ruined it.